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April 1960 Radio-Electronics

April 1960 Radio-Electronics

April 1960 Radio-Electronics Cover - RF Cafe[Table of Contents]

Wax nostalgic about and learn from the history of early electronics. See articles from Radio-Electronics, published 1930-1988. All copyrights hereby acknowledged.

It is no secret that I consider Hugo Gernsback to have been one of the last century's premier technology innovators, futurists, and publishers. Many of his proposals, prognostications, predictions, forecasts, and maybe even prophecies came to fruition in his lifetime - often due to his own efforts. In the case of the burgeoning wireless entertainment industry (radio and television), Gernsback commented on the contention between household members over which program should be tuned in. To wit from a 1960 issue of Radio-Electronics magazine: "Yes, a family may conceivably have two separate radios and three TV sets, each in a different room - everyone has seen such split households - but we must all agree that this is an asinine and not very progressive solution to the problem, even if sufficient rooms are available. It won't prevail in the future." This didn't really happen until the availability of smartphones and wideband streaming video, so sometime around 2008 - about six decades later.


Hugo Gernsback - RF CafeHugo Gernsback, Editor

... The Next Development in Radio and Television ...

Future radio and television receivers will bear no resemblance to those now familiar to us. None of the original inventors and protagonists of broadcasting and television foresaw the tension, the strife and the dissension these noble and useful inventions could cause in the average household.

Unfortunately, today both radios and TV receivers have often become monstrous nuisances which all too often create unhappiness for unwilling eyes and ears. Usurping hearing and sight of others is barbaric, creating widespread and all too much lasting dissatisfaction among its victims.

Children and youths regularly trespass upon the time and nerves of their elders by forcing them to listen and thus participate in their program selections - unless the elders leave the room.

Husbands and wives continuously clash over the choice of programs - the former want sports events or other male entertainment, while the latter insist on drama or other female fare.

Yes, a family may conceivably have two separate radios and three TV sets, each in a different room - everyone has seen such split households - but we must all agree that this is an asinine and not very progressive solution to the problem, even if sufficient rooms are available. It won't prevail in the future.

In the present hectic and stressful civilization, when our nerves are under continuous assault from a wide variety of noises, the extra-high-decibel onslaught of radios and TV's injures our nervous systems far more than anyone cares to admit. And, unfortunately, the noise situation is steadily worsening, hence the increasing nervous collapse of a large percentage of our population.

The recent addition of hi-fi and stereo has done nothing to ameliorate the sonic impact on our audio centers. Our authorities, who get an increasing number of complaints, wonder where it will all end.

If this sounds as if we were roundly condemning and denouncing all electronic entertainment instruments and devices, let us assure you at once that nothing is further from our thoughts. Indeed, we who were in at the birth of all of them have spent our entire life and efforts in publicizing and propagandizing electronic sound and sight.

What we do object to is the crude form of our present-day electronic entertainment gear. Future historians will wonder how we possibly could have tolerated it so long!

Let us now visit our family of five of the not-too-distant future. It is 7 in the evening. The entire family is together once more, all assembled in the living room after dinner. All are listening to either their TV's, their radio or their hi-fi Stereo, but the casual stranger entering the room hears not a sound, sees no picture on a screen!

All is serene and quiet. The lights are low and the room has a pleasant cozy atmosphere. Father and mother are sitting on the couch, relaxed. Their eyes are closed, but by the alert expressions on their faces, you know that they are wide awake.

The two girls, 8 and 12, are sitting in comfortable over-stuffed chairs, one listening to her radio, eyes wide open, and the other entertained by her TV, her eyes closed but fluttering while she follows the latest courtroom drama. Junior, age 16, sits at the table doing his homework, by the room's sole dimmed table lamp. He listens to the latest hi-fi stereo explorer's account recorded on board a huge space-liner in transit from the moon to the earth. The only audible noise in the room is Junior's rustling homework papers.

The entire family wears individual, modern-styled head-gear that runs over the forehead and back around the head. It is made of light aluminumagnesium with a soft plastic inside pad where it touches the forehead and hair in back. It can be adjusted for any size head. Its total weight is less than 5 ounces. Over the ears are tiny adjusting knobs for off, on, change of channel, intensity and volume control. The head-band nowhere measures more than 1/4 inch thick. All the electronic components are contained within this thickness, along which they are distributed. There is neither a visible antenna nor a connecting cord. Entirely transistorized, the long-life batteries are in the headband, too. Hence one can walk about the house without ever missing any part of a program.

The headgear is called a superceptor, It is at once a combination radio set, television receiver and hi-fi stereo. You can go to sleep with your superceptor, too. Special models are built for learn-while-you-sleep purposes; others will awaken you to music at the preset time.

Fantastic? Not any more than radio or television was in 1900.

The superceptor is just a few stages more sophisticated than today's receivers. At the present state of electronics, it becomes discernible that we will soon break through into the inner consciousness of man. We do not need ears or eyes to hear or see - anyone who dreams while asleep knows that. By going directly to our brain's hearing and sight centers, we can bypass the optic and audio nerves that lead to them. But how do we accomplish that? Here is one approach - there may be several others.

Last January, a trio of scientists at the University of California at Los Angeles reported in the Proceedings of the Society for Experimental, Biology and Medicine that electromagnetic fields created by electromagnets could stimulate the brain without contacting the skull. Drs. Alexander Kolin and Norman Q. Brill and graduate student Paul Broberg reasoned that brain tissue is conductive; thus they thought that electric currents could be induced in the brain just as electric currents are induced in transformer coils. Such brain conductivity had been noted by Norwegian technicians working in a hydroelectric station. They "saw" bluish-white flickerings whenever they were near the large choke coils of the plant. The phenomenon is called phosphenes. The UCLA researchers were able to duplicate the phosphenes by creating a low-frequency current in a magnet and placing their heads in its field.

Such super-perception - we term it superception - has a long distance to go before we can perceive television images in our sight or optic brain centers, but we feel certain that it will be accomplished in he future. Tiny, solid-state electronic scanners replacing the present cathode ray tube, may do the trick.

As for the much simpler audio superception, we have commented on this at length.* It is already here.

Will superception TV supplant screen television? Probably not. Large wall-screen projection will always remain for simultaneous viewing of specialized programs for the entire family and for their invited company's electronic fare. - H.G.

* See "Future Audio Goals," October, 1959 Radio-Electronics page 33. See also "Microelectronics," page 33, February, 1960, Radio-Electronics.



Posted April 1, 2023

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